Jayda Bailey has been studying martial arts since before she first went to school.
As a senior at Hermon High School, life changes are now inevitable after graduation. And the Levant teenager will get a head start on her personal progression on Nov. 3 when she makes her mixed martial arts debut during a show to be hosted by New England Fights at the Aura nightclub in Portland.
That debut fight, an amateur bantamweight (135-pound) contest against Fryeburg’s Denae Dostie, will come just eight days after Bailey turns 18, making her the youngest person to compete in a regulated MMA bout in Maine since the state legalized the sport in 2009, according to NEF officials.
“I’ve been wanting to fight for as long as I can remember,” said Bailey. “November 3rd will be the day I can showcase what I have, and begin my career with a bang.”
Bailey, nicknamed “Lil Killah,” was introduced to martial arts at age 4 and steadily has expanded her fighting resume.
She’s dabbled in boxing, is a five-time champion of the Black Fly State Jiu-Jitsu Championships held each summer in Rangeley, and has competed with the Bucksport High School wrestling team. Hermon High doesn’t field its own team in that sport.
She’s also trained at Young’s MMA in Bangor since age 12 where she has worked to merge the various combat skills she has learned into a full mixed martial arts arsenal.
Bailey’s enthusiasm for pursuing a mixed martial arts career after high school took her to one of the sport’s top training facilities two summers ago. While at Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she trained with the likes of former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm.
Bailey plans to return to Jackson Wink after graduation next summer.
“(Bailey’s) the future,” said Chris Young, owner and lead trainer at Young’s MMA, during an interview earlier this summer. “She’s hungry. She wants it 100 percent. She devotes herself to it, she loves the sport, she loves all the process of the sport, the hard work, the training. She likes to learn.
“She’s got all those little attributes that can come together to make her a future star.”
Bailey’s first MMA opponent also will be making her debut in the cage.
Dostie, a 2014 Fryeburg Academy graduate, was a track and field athlete during high school who now serves as a member of the military police with the Maine Army National Guard.
Dostie trains at Kenney’s MMA in Lisbon.
“I’m very excited for my first fight in NEF,” she said. “It will be fun to see how this fight goes. I know either way I will learn a lot.”
The Bailey-Dostie clash will be one of at least two women’s MMA bouts scheduled for NEF 31, New England Fights’ first Portland show.
Alex Walker (4-1) of Lancaster, New Hampshire, will face Hilarie Rose (4-3) of Norfolk, Massachusetts, to crown the first NEF MMA amateur strawweight (115-pound) champion.